Written by Murray Bailey — This is the second of Murray Bailey’s crime thrillers to follow the Egyptian adventures of British archaeologist Alex MacLure, and it’s clear the author knows his subject. I’d compare it to reading highly technical sci-fi. You either try to understand every detail or skim along on the surface trusting the author knows his business and get on with the story.
Secrets of the Dead begins, not in Egypt, but in Atlanta, Georgia, where a cache of bodies has been found, eight in all. The victims were buried in a crawl space under The Church of the Risen Christ. FBI agent Charlie Rebb and her annoying partner Peter Zhang are immediately brought into the investigation because she’d worked a previous serial killer case in which the eight victims were murdered in the same manner as those under the church. They bear a mysterious mark loosely linked to a local tattoo artist who appears to have fled the country.
While this crime thriller won’t leave you with a clear understanding of ancient Egypt, it provides a complex adventure that involves the historical, cultural, and religious obsessions that take hold of people through the ages. A strong contender for your summer beach bag, it’s the kind of book you don’t want to have to think about too much. That’s partly because Bailey doesn’t give you much help. The ancient Egyptians’ complicated history spans more time than has elapsed since AD 1. The culture produced numerous archaeological sites and many gods who evolved over time. The map and schematic of the Great Pyramid that Bailey provides are a step in the right direction. A glossary, perhaps a timeline, would be equally welcome.